Nov 04

Dire Maul Chapter 3

The night’s ritual had been more of a success than Lethtendris had expected. Her orbs worked perfectly and today Master Earthfury would see just how well. He had been disappointed that his prize elf had not recovered and so, reluctantly agreed to let her have him.

The goblin announcer’s voice rang clear through the morning air. “Hailing from the great empire of Jintha’Alor I give you Val’Don! You watched as he took down one opponent after another yesterday. Will he be able to keep it up today as he takes on Ashan and Nathan from Silvermoon city!”

Lethtendris was confident that Earthfury would be satisfied with the results. The troll in question had performed well yesterday but was visibly fatigued when fighting his third opponent. He would be tested with the same today. Except he would fight one of Earthfury’s better teams at the end.

They watched as Val’don toyed with his first two opponents before taking them out. He moved much easier than yesterday. The sweat glistening on Val’don’s green skin was the only indication of his effort. Lethtendris saw Earthfury nod his approval. After the second opponent, the troll stood in the center of the ring relaxing the grip on the two long daggers he held. He waited as two blood elves entered the ring. Ashan carried a two-handed mace lightly over his shoulder. Nathan had a dagger in one hand and a short sword in the other. Earthfury leaned forward as the engagement began.

Val’don ducked easily under Ashan’s heavy handed swing. He twisted, slashing into the thick leather vest covering Ashan’s back. Nathan was immediately on him striking with his own dagger that Val’don barely parried. He dodged a thrust of the short sword aimed at his middle. Caught between them, Val’don ducked under another swing from Ashan, rolling quickly out of the way and to his feet to face the two again. The fight continued in this manner as the minutes dragged on. The two elves would trap the troll, forcing continued feats of agility to get out of it. Earthfury had chosen these two for precisely this reason. They would wear their opponents down, then strike with a coordinated precision.

Earthfury waited for the signs of fatigue in Val’don. He was surprised that he saw those signs in Ashan and Nathan first. The two elves had given the troll small cuts here and there. Red streaks of blood contrasted sharply with the troll’s exposed skin. But still he dodged and moved with ease. Earthfury saw the gesture from Nathan to his partner to finish the fight. Nathan took on a different stance and Val’Don knew it was time to get serious.

Nathan came at him with a low swing of the short sword that rose up. Val’don blocked it but missed the dagger that followed the same path and cut deeply into his thigh. As Val’don shifted his weight onto his other leg, Ashan was there with his own swing. Lethtendris and Earthfury heard a crack as the mace struck the troll square in the back. Val’don crashed to the ground, his daggers thrown from his hands. Nathan and Ashan threw the daggers out of his reach and raised their hands in victory.

Earthfury laughed. “I am impressed by the increase in stamina and strength. But it can’t make up for skill and practice. Val’don still has much to learn.”

Lethtendris leaned back in her chair and reached for a glass of wine sitting on the table between them. “This contest is not over yet.” She sipped it confidently. Earthfury looked at her. Then, back at the arena floor.

To his amazement, Val’don was moving to his feet. Nathan and Ashan had their backs turned to him and didn’t see the rush and leap as Val’don took Ashan from behind. They rolled in a heap ending with Val’don on top. He punched Ashan squarely in the nose knocking the blood elf out.

Grabbing the mace he met Nathan who came at him with fury in his eyes. Val’don parried a swing from the short sword but took another deep cut. This one he didn’t seem to notice as he swung the mace around to hit Nathan’s raised dagger arm. The swing shattered Nathan’s elbow and crashed into his head. Nathan fell to the floor in a heap.

Val’don screamed a final cry of outrage to the cheers of a wild crowd. The announcer could barely be heard over the noise. “I can’t believe it! Val’don, rises victorious from the ashes of defeat. The healers are going to have their hands full with this fight. And this is only the pre-show! You won’t want to miss the action of the next few days when you will see the world champions fight.”

Earthfury rose from his seat. He had given his fighters strict instructions that they were to keep it light. Put on a show and do no damage that would slow them down in the days to come. He told Lethtendris “It would seem your enhancement works a little too well. Excuse me while I deal with my competitors.” He threw back the curtain that separated their seats from the rabble outside; leaving Lethtendris in a cloud of fury. She took another sip of her wine.


The team approached cautiously sinking to the ground to lay flat atop a wall. From their vantage point, they could easily look down into the western section. So long as nobody looked up, they could observe without being seen. Dire Maul had been created in a natural hollow of the surrounding mountains. A central open area connected the wings that was split into two sections. The Eastern section contained a garden area surrounded by a wide stone walkway. Or so the map Joella had been given indicated. The Western section contained a colosseum ring. From there, one could reach the rest of the complex that was buried in the mountain. From what Joella and her companions could see, the complex was very old and in a sorry state of disrepair. Every weather exposed wall was crumbling to some extent. Huge vines grew into and crumbled entire sections. Though the colosseum itself was more or less in tact, pieces of the huge, ornately carved pillars had fallen. They laid where they fell suggesting that the colosseum could once have been a covered structure. The current inhabitants had done nothing to clear out the debris that littered the area.

Joella pulled out her telescope and surveyed the scene. She could see gladiatorial games going on within the colosseum. Along the perimeter were makeshift tables holding kegs and large bonfires roasting entire carcasses of animals. Though some of the animals were simply torn apart and eaten raw. Discarded scraps were fed to packs of wolves that roamed the area. Groups of Ogres and Satyrs milled around making seats and tables of the debris or sitting on the ground. It looked to her like a proper celebration. “Celebration of what?” She wondered.

The approach to the western side was easy enough to access but beyond that, there was no easy way in. The north wall had long been covered by the natural erosion of the mountain, making a crossing from one side to the other impossible without doing some rock climbing. To the south, the slope they were on dropped off sharply to expose a good portion of the western wall. The southern wall broke to become the entrance to the complex, which was crawling with ogres. They needed to get into the eastern section where the Sentinels told them the Satyrs would be.

As he surveyed the scene below, Denzel let out a long whistle. “That’s a lot of Ogres.”

“What are they doing?” Balat asked.

“Watching the games.” Joella replied as she continued to search the area with her telescope.

“Games? You mean like the tournaments?” Balat asked with enthusiasm.

”No, not like the tournaments.” Denzel told him, grimly, then looked at Nost.

Nost took a breath and continued the explanation.“They’re slaves. Trained specifically for arena contests and made to fight each other to the death. It’s more prevalent in Kalimdor than in the Eastern Kingdoms. But, it happens often enough there too. It’s a nasty practice that keeps going so long as people keep paying.”

“Oh.” was all Balat said.

“Why are they here?” Joella asked. “I would think there are more lucrative places for the Slave Masters. The arena in Gadgetstan, for example.”

“Don’t underestimate the Ogres. They’re actually quite rich.” Nost told her.

She set the scope down and stared at him in disbelief. “What?” The ogres she had encountered all lived in caves or mounds in primitive conditions. “I can’t say I have ever encountered any ‘rich’ Ogres.”

Nost continued. “You know they make excellent beer. But besides that, they have a very active trade system with the goblins. But then again, who doesn’t.” He said with a cryptic smile.

“Trading what?” She looked again at the scene below and thought better of her question. “Never mind, I don’t want to know.”

Nost’s statement was not lost on Denzel. He knew that Nost did a lot of business for the guild with what they grew in the greenhouse. Combined with the comments made at Feathermoon, Denzel began to wonder if the business he did involved more than the open markets. He would be having a talk with Cregs when they returned.

They moved back away from the wall. There were too many to fight their way through so they would have to get past them another way. Joella said as much as she pulled out a map of the complex they had been given by the Elves. “How are we going to get across this?” She thought out loud.

“We might want to know more of what’s going on first.” Denzel suggested. “Is this something that will end soon or go on for a while? And chances are if there’s spectacle going on, our targets may be in attendance.”

“Good point.” She said as she sat down to study the map. “I wish I could get a closer look down there. A rogue would be good right now.”

“You can.” Kyuni said surprising her. She removed her satchel and set down her staff. “Or rather, I can. I will be back shortly.” The druid’s form before them blurred as she changed shape into a panther. The faint markings on her short coat resembled the patterns of the leathers she had been wearing. The tattoos on her face seemed to be the only thing that remained.

“So that’s what happens to their clothes when they change.” Denzel said with amusement. Kyuni’s feral eyes turned on him and she pinned back her ears. “Sorry.” Denzel said, startled.

Kyuni ran toward one of the vines that grew over the edge of the wall.

They followed to the vine to see where the druid had gone. But as they searched the area, there was no sign of a cat. “I guess when they don’t want to be seen, they won’t be.” Denzel remarked.

They returned to where Joella had spread out the map and sat down to wait. Joella studied the map and thought through the possibilities. The day was getting on and the shadows began to grow. They had arrived exactly when she wanted to. The shadows of the evening would hide their approach. The plan had been to rappel into the complex, take out any ogres they happened to come across, and make their way to the eastern section. Joella guessed that a good portion of the inhabitants were in the common area at the moment. The shadows would still hide them but it would take much longer to get across. So much for getting in easy. She thought. To the team she said, “We need a way to get past them and to this door.” She pointed to a spot on the eastern edge of the common.”

“I can blink there.” Balat said, hopefully.

“That doesn’t help the rest of us though.” She replied. Looking up she suddenly realized they were missing another member of the party. “Wait a second, where’s Nost?”

“Right here.” He called from behind the trees where the horses were tethered. “I thought I saw something and had to take a look.” He emerged holding up a small greenish gray fungus for them to see. “Ghost mushrooms. These things sell for a fortune. It takes a special kind of climate for them to grow in so they’re hard to come by. They’re used to create…”

“Nost,” Joella cut him off. “This is not the best time for a horticultural lesson.”

“I was going to say,” he continued slowly to emphasize his point. “They’re used to create vanishing inks and invisibility potions.” He raised and eyebrow to Denzel, who looked back at him with a grin.

Denzel had never made an invisibility potion before. The vanishing inks were a common thing used for almost every letter that contained sensitive information. But that was simply a matter of matching a pigment to parchment that could be revealed after treating with any number of liquids. This proved to be a little harder. Denzel sent Balat to look for more mushrooms as he and Nost started pulling out with various herbs and oils which they would apply to fabric strips to test the effects.

Joella watched the commons as she waited for Kyuni. The sounds of cheers rose and fell as the time crept by. She could hear an amplified voice of the announcer as he called in the competitors. Looking though the scope she identified the Goblin attached to it. “They must have some sort of security.” She thought to herself, though she couldn’t tell who that might be. The wolf pack handlers were easy enough to pick out, as were the two headed mages. The rest looked like the usual brutish types.

She noticed a few Satyrs in attendance who she had not seen before. The overwhelming size of the Ogres hid their smaller shapes. As she watched more closely she could see the tiny form of a sprites bouncing here and there. She looked back at Nost and Denzel crouched over their crucibles milling various herbs into powders. There was nothing for her to do but surveillance; an activity she never enjoyed. She hated to be idle. “Watch and wait.” she thought as she resigned herself to the task. Then settled into a more comfortable position on the wall.

Joella was more than happy to move when Kyuni returned an hour later. Her joints had started to get stiff from laying in one place for so long.

Kyuni shifted back to her natural form and joined Joella. “I believe our targets are in the audience. There is an enclosed section on the north end of the arena, hidden behind the columns there.” She pointed toward to where the columns seemed to have survived slightly better than the others. “Within, there are several Satyrs, a Tauren and one out of place blood elf.”

“I wondered what was there.” Joella said. She had been unable to see around the columns from where they were. “From what I could see here they don’t seem to be concerned about security.”

“They’re not. Their attention is on what is happening in the arena.”

“Any indication when it might be over?”

“From what little I understood, it seems like the games are moving toward a climax for the day but there will be more to come in the next few days. Much more. If you wish to get into the Eastern section, now would be a good time to move. We may have to wait much longer otherwise.”

Joella pushed herself back from the wall and approached Denzel and Nost. They now had several vials of liquids with pieces of cloth demonstrating various attempts laid out. Another liquid was mixing in a small kettle. “How long until that stuff is finished.” She asked Denzel.

“Shouldn’t be too much longer.” He held up a pack which they could only see part of. “I think we got it. But I”m not sure how long it will last.” When Kyuni looked at him confused he explained. “Nost found some ghost mushrooms which we are making an invisibility potion out of. If we apply it to our cloaks and equipment it makes them blend into any surroundings. So long as we don’t make any outrageous movements and stay under our cloaks, we can sneak past those Ogres.” He smiled at her. “Of course some of us won’t need it.”

“The ability of you humans to improvise always amazes me.” She said dryly as one side of her mouth twitched into a wry grin. Denzel’s gentle teasing reminded her of her brother. He and Drun might get along well, she thought. “I believe there something else I must report. One of the competitors looked much like Varian Wrynn.”

Balat, Nost, and Denzel stopped what they were doing to look at her. “That’s not possible.” Joella said. “The King is dead.”

“As far as we know.” Nost said.

They looked to Denzel. “It’s probably just a coincidence.” He said, shaking his head. He knew everyone in Stormwind’s upper classes. “Though I have heard of worse treatment of illegitimate children,”

“Well, whether it’s a lost relative or his twin brother is not our concern. The slave trade is what it is. We can report it our employers later. They can decide to do something with it or not.” Joella told Kyuni with finality. Grateful to get moving again, she looked at the rest of the group. “As soon as the potion is ready, we move.”

The team covered weapons and packs with the potion leaving small portions visible so they could see what they were carrying. Denzel soaked his cloak in the mixture and spread it over himself. The others did the same. The cloaks reflected the surrounding landscape. It wasn’t perfect but, it was enough that you had to look twice to see that something was there. Balat helped him empty the failed attempts and refill the vials with what they had left over.

Kyuni showed them how she was able to get into the commons. The vine she used was like climbing down a tree. It was easy for Kyuni in her cat form. The humans made their way down carefully using ropes. Joella praised the light silently that the vine was big enough to hide their descent without being invisible.

From what she saw while waiting for Kyuni, she determined that skirting the northern wall would be their best option. There was space behind and under the tables along the north wall that could be used as cover. Kyuni prowled her way across the commons while the rest of the team made their way along the wall. As she waited for them, she scouted a little into the next section. What she saw stopped her from going any further.

The rest of the team slowly made their way around the perimeter stopping when anyone looked in their direction. Joella took the rear to make sure everyone made it across. She was not surprised when she saw a beer mug disappear from a table, re-appearing a moment later completely empty. She knew it was Denzel. He didn’t need any invisibility to pull that off. She was surprised when she saw another one vanish. “Balat or Nost?” she wondered briefly then caught a glimpse of who was sitting in the enclosed section Kyuni talked about.

There was indeed a Blood Elf sitting regally in a carved chair surrounded by several Satyrs. The enclosure was a rich drapery that formed a canopy strung between the columns. The drapery and the chair Lethtendris sat in seemed to come straight from somewhere in Quel’Danas creating a sanctuary within the savagery that surrounded it. The Ogres were giving it a wide berth.

Joella watched for a moment as Lethtendris interacted with the Satyrs and one larger sprite that seemed to be her personal attendant. From what she had observed on the wall, It seemed that while the Ogres and Satyrs shared the complex, there was little interaction between them. While Joella couldn’t say who was leading the Ogres. She could tell that the Satyrs deferred to Lethtendris. Filing the note in her head for later use, Joella hurried across wall to catch up with the rest of the team.

Once within the relative safety of the passageway that led to the eastern section, A disembodied hand with short dirty fingernails appeared with the mug that had vanished earlier. It tipped over into what started out as air and revealed Nost as his hood fell back. He drained it in one breath and let out a satisfied sigh. “The Ogres do make a good beer.”

“That they do!” Denzel agreed.

Joella couldn’t help but laugh a little to herself. They made it through that easier than she thought. The path they had chosen had given her a good look at Lethtendris and possibly Alazzin as well. They could now identify their targets, which made the rest of it fairly simple. All they needed to do was isolate them.

The excitement of their small victory was immediately snuffed as she saw what was in the courtyard beyond.

The thick green vines they had descended on mingled with stark white trees that grew up the walls. Tree branches seemed to crawl onto the ancient beams that supported what was once a leather canopy. Tatters of the roof covering hung down to join with the smaller vines that dangled there. Deep bluish green vines snaked across the stones from the walls to drop off a ledge; outlining the wide walkway that surrounded the sunken central garden. It could have been any ancient city taken over by a rainforest, except that the vines and the trees were moving.

“So much for keeping a distance from the plants.” Joella muttered.

Kyuni was standing with her hand on the nearest vine similar to the one they had climbed down. She watched the movement of the entire area seeming to take in everything she saw. “This is not natural.” Kyuni said after a moment. “I can feel a power directing their growth against what nature would shape for them. It’s something vile- diseased.”

“No kidding.” Joella said dryly. “Break time’s over Nost.” She told the priest.

“Crud.” Nost said looking at his empty mug. He stowed it in his bag and pulled out a pair of gloves and a small knife. He knelt down to grab one of the creeping vines and cut a piece from it. The vine shrank back as if in pain. The piece he held in his hand shriveled to a small bluish green lump within only a few seconds. Kyuni picked the piece from his hand and studied it for a moment before throwing it toward the sunken section.

Nost continued to cut small pieces here and there to observe the effects. Kyuni watched him with interest. As he moved patches of his cloak began to re-appear. Indicating the invisibility potion was wearing off.

“Now I know how long that works.” Denzel said, disappointed the invisibility had not lasted longer. He would have to work on it when they returned.

“Nost?” Joella asked of the priest. “ We haven’t got all day. What can you tell us?”

He didn’t respond and continued working through the foliage cutting and discarding as if he had heard nothing.

Balat stepped up to him and put a hand on his arm. “Dad?”

Nost seemed to wake as if from a trance. “What?”

“Is it safe?” Balat asked.

“Oh!” He stopped and looked around. “We need to be careful. Most of this is overgrown houseplants. But there are a few here that are very poisonous. “Those dark green vines there.” He indicated the vine he had cut the first piece from. “You might want to burn through those.” He removed his gloves and placed them carefully back in the bag. “And then there are some,” He continued as he reached out and took hold of a few leaves of a nearby bush. “that are delicious.” He plucked the leaves off and popped one in his mouth chewing thoughtfully. “Very nice flavor. It would go well in soup.”

The rest of the team stared at him as if he had lost his mind. Kyuni grabbed hold of the bush concentrating for a moment. Then, stared wide-eyed at Nost again.

“How did you know this?” She asked him.

He pointed to the stems growing out of the stone. “There. It’s a sagebush. When sage is unhealthy it has cracks at the base stem. This one has no cracks. The leaves are full with a bright blue-green color. So it’s healthy.”

Kyuni let go of the bush. Her cheeks coloring in embarrassment. “This one is resisting. I didn’t feel it until now. Though it will not hold out for much longer.” She stepped around the bush placing her hand on one of the trees. She felt more than saw as a branch reached down and gabbed hold of her wrist. She struggled for a moment calling on her druidic powers to gain control of the tree. It refused her and began to pull her into the air.

Denzel pulled his sword from its scabbard hacking part way through the branch.

It was just enough to get the tree’s attention even more. It reached out another branch for him. Denzel parried it as Joella pulled out her mace and began smashing branches aside.

Balat threw a fire bolt at the branch that held Kyuni. It burst into flame and began to spread quickly as if the tree were dry tinder, engulfing the branch that held Kyuni as well as the main trunk of the tree. Denzel hacked again at the branch and Kyuni fell with a burning section still attached to her wrist. Balat threw a frost bolt at it which immediately put out the fire, but not before Kyuni had been burned by it.

“Freeze it!” Joella yelled to Balat as she smashed aside another branch.

Balat threw another frost bolt at the trunk partially freezing the bottom of the tree. The flames continued to move out to the now flailing branches and threatened to spread to the nearby foliage.

Nost suddenly realized that if that fire spread, it would burn the whole place and alert the inhabitants to their presence. He whispered a prayer of fortitude and laid his hand on Balat’s shoulder. “Again.” He told his son.

Balat threw another frost bolt at the tree. The entire thing froze this time, snuffing out the fire. Kyuni, now free of the branch, called down her own cold fire from the stars and shattered the tree.

“Are you ok?” Joella asked Kyuni.

Kyuni looked down at the reddening skin of her hand and arm where the flames had burned. She closed her eyes for a moment, sucking in her breath as if steeling herself against the pain. When she opened them she said to Joella. “I will be fine. My pride is hurt more than anything.”

Joella watched as her hand and arm slowly changed back to its usual color. She shook her head in amazement. “I was told Druidic healing was good, but damn.” She indicated Kyuni’s arm.

“This is small.” Kyuni said, shrugging off the compliment. “And you did say not to touch anything we didn’t know about.”

Joella let out a small ironic laugh. “I meant that more for other members.”

Nost held up his hands in defense. “Don’t blame me, I didn’t touch it.”

“No, you didn’t.” Joella laughed again. She looked back at the passageway. “We need to get through here before someone takes notice.” She looked at Balat. “Nice work with the frost bolts, but maybe Denzel had better handle the fire.”

Balat bowed his head ashamed that he was unable to control the fire. “I’m sorry.” he muttered.

Kyuni knelt down beside him placing a hand on his arm. She felt the conflicting emotions and a desire to live up to expectations. She didn’t know him well enough to tell if they were imposed or his own. It overlaid a deep pain that was constantly repressed; the desire to deal with it overshadowed by a sense of duty. Kyuni understood a little of what he was going through. He lived a much harder life than most children. She remembered only glimpses of her own childhood that had been snatched away by the brutal reality of war. But they were distant memories of a time that was long gone.

Kyuni reached into the earth with her power, finding the deep tranquility that laid there and passed it into him. He would learn to deal with it, as she had done. But it would take time and this was not the place. His pain had waited this long, it could wait a little longer. “There is no reason to be.” She told him. “You did what you knew best to do. If you had not reacted so quickly this may have turned out differently.”

Balat looked at Kyuni. He felt a warm, calm feeling come over him. The feeling that everything was going to be ok. He would be able to control the fire and all his powers in time. All he needed was a little patience and more practice. He smiled at her.

“Come on Balat,” Denzel said to him. “I’ll burn ’em, you freeze ’em.” They moved off to clear the path.

Nost had watched the druid when the sudden change came over his son. He had never seen Balat so calm before. As Kyuni stood, Nost caught her arm. “What did you do?” he asked wide-eyed.

She turned back to him and said gently. “You should know, Priest, that there is more to healing than just what is visible.” In this brief contact she felt the confusion and frustration she had felt within him when they had shaken hands in Stormwind. Only this time it was closer to the surface. Turbulent, mis-understood, emotions and half formed memories boiled within him like a churning sea. She laid her hand gently on his chest. “Some things can only be healed from within; when you are ready.” She felt the churning subside as she passed the tranquility to him. “It seems that we have much we could learn from each other.” She said lightly as she indicated the sagebush still growing nearby. She left him standing there to follow Denzel and Balat.

They moved quickly around the walkway leaving frozen black tendrils of withered vines in their wake. Like a trail of breadcrumbs. Joella thought. But there was no help for it. She watched the passageway for someone to walk through at any moment, fearful that they would be found and the entire complex rush in pursuit. As the moments passed and nothing came the tension built inside her that she forced to it’s own calm with whispered prayers to the light. As they reached a passage in the southern wall her tension was broken as someone did emerge in the form of a small sprite skipping along happily until it stopped dead upon seeing them. His skin was a bright crimson color and he wore breeches of a rough green cloth. Around his neck held a familiar looking crescent shaped key.

“That’s the key we are looking for!” Joella said when she recognized it.

Denzel cut through the last of the vines and stepped into the open space of the passage doorway. The sprite glanced from one face to the next frozen in place; looking uncertain what to do.

Joella approached cautiously crouching down to it’s level. “Hey little guy, we won’t hurt you. But we need that key you have there.”

The sprite looked at her turning his head from side to side. He fingered the key then looked down at it. A smile grew on his face as he looked back at Joella. A surprisingly loud squeaky voice spoke to them in accented common. “I see. You say you need this key. To get this key you have to catch me!” He then turned and bolted back through the door.

Balat shot past her and ran after him. Joella was on her feet in an instant; cursing under her breath. Whatever Kyuni did to calm him down apparently didn’t last long.

They chased the sprite down a long corridor and Balat blinked to cut it off. As he reached to grab it, it vanished. The rest of the group caught up to him a moment later.

“I had it! Where did it go?” He said to them looking around. The sprite appeared from behind a corner jumping up and down with excitement.

“Follow me and you will see that friends we can be!” It called, then vanished beyond the corner.

Balat started to take off again and Denzel grabbed his collar. “Not so fast. You’re going to get us killed.” Balat blinked out of his grasp as he said it. Denzel looked at his empty hand in surprise. Balat re-appeared a few steps away.

“No I won’t.” He said angrily. “There’s nobody here. I already looked.”

Denzel stared at him for a moment then looked at Nost and back again. “How did you do that?” He demanded. In all the time he had spent with Balat he had never seen him blink like this before. “I don’t know of any mage that can blink that fast.”

“I don’t know.” Balat said still angry. “I just did.”

“So the blinking is more than just a game?” Joella asked, looking at both Nost and Denzel.

“Just stay here a minute. There is obviously something else going on.” Nost told his son. “Besides, it wants us to follow it so it probably won’t go far.” He was as surprised as Joella and Denzel were. He looked at Kyuni.

Joella gave Nost a look telling him to deal with his son. Nost took the hint but continued to stare at Kyuni. “And I think we should leave the scouting to Kyuni. As fast as you suddenly are, I think she would be a better choice. What did you do?” Nost asked Kyuni again, accusingly.

“The same thing I did to you.” She told him, in defense. “I simply helped both of you to calm your mind. What happens as a result is completely your own.”

It was his turn to look surprised. “It seems we do have much to learn.”

Balat took another look down the corridor and walked back to the group reluctantly. “How far did you go?” Denzel asked him when he came back to them.

“Just to the end of the corridor past this one. Like I said, there’s nobody there.”

“It can’t be this easy.” Joella shook her head. “That sprite should have alerted others to our presence. From what the Elven Sentinels described, this place should be crawling with Satyrs. Granted, a lot of the inhabitants here seem to be watching those fights. But it still doesn’t make sense that everyone would be there.”

“Then maybe we should follow and find out what traps have been laid.” Nost said and started off toward where the sprite had gone.

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